In 1983, I threw a party at the Arts Club in Dover Street to launch a Quartet book on the Bee Gees, the vocal trio of the three Gibb brothers who were around in the early days of pop and became one of the world’s most successful music groups. It was written and created by David English and produced in gorgeous colour with illustrations and lettering by Alex Brychta. The theme was how funny it is, the way people often resemble animals. ‘Think of Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb . . . Barry as a Lion, Robin the Red Setter and Maurice as an Eager Beaver. Now come with me, says the author, and experience the legend of the Bee Gees.’ It was basically a children’s book, dedicated to children everywhere and to the fourth Gibb brother. Its style of telling was unique and reflected all the hopes, frustrations – even heartache – as well as the joy and happiness life has in store for us.
Certainly the launch party was a joyous event. The three brothers were there, wrote David Thomas in the Standard, ‘standing in one corner of the room pretending it was still 1978. Meanwhile the London lit. crit. set, never known for passionate disco fever, milled around asking one another whether they knew what a Bee Gee looked like, pointing at strangers and enquiring, “Do you think that’s Barry?”’ Then, Thomas went on to say, ‘as if to underline the changes that have come over the pop scene since the days that the Bee Gees ruled the airwaves, there were some newer stars in attendance. Like Marilyn (né Peter Robinson), a good friend of Boy George’s who used to model frocks for Vivienne Westwood and who is now, in the best music-biz style, about to sign a six-figure deal with a major company.’ Finally Thomas went on to query the purpose of throwing a party when the guests had little to contribute to the selling of books. When he put the question to Juliette Foy, Quartet’s press officer, she replied that, ‘Primarily we are promoting our publishing house as much as the book.’ I thought that was a good response since we could never justify the cost of a party if we were to equate it with the number of books we sell as a result.
My own thoughts are that parties are also useful for meeting people who might have a book in them, and that if, as a publisher, you do not circulate widely, then opportunities will pass you by. The Bee Gee soirée in particular was heavily attended by show-business personalities, including the likes of Billy Connolly, Christopher Reeve, Sting, Bob Geldof and Jeremy Irons. The presence of celebrities will invariably ensure a good deal of press coverage, which in today’s world gives a vital boost to any business.